We are obsessed with handmade in recent years, have you noticed? I have been giving more thought to the intrigue of handmade, after having also come under its spell some years back. Recently, I have started to question how we instinctively put handmade on a pedestal.
I suppose it is not surprising...handmade necessitates (what we perceive as) luxurious amounts of time and effort. A person who has time to make by hand must have so much skill and so much available time! A person who can afford to pay the cost of handmade must have so much money! On some unconscious level, our brain makes these links. Our culture further propels these notions, as heritage brands and notions of authenticity have pushed to the forefront of trend.
Sergers (also known as overlock machines) trim and finish knit fabrics using mechanics that simultaneously trim the fabric and enclose the trimmed seam allowance with thread. The result saves the sewer time by allowing her to not have to bind the seam separately while still giving the seam a clean look. Another advantage of this finish is that it allows stretch in the seam, which is crucial to the functioning of a knit garment (imagine a t-shirt or turtleneck which does not stretch at the sides or bottom or neck). Sewing knit fabrics with sergers also allows for flexible and comfortable fits, which is what people demand of late (consider how different a button-down shirt feels from a t-shirt, and how rarely people are willing to take time to iron shirts, and then you understand why sergers seem to have become the standard equipment used to make and/or finish garments.